Software

Seven days of Vista -- day 1: Let there be new applications

Check out some of the new and updated applications that form a part of everyone's favourite replacement for Windows XP

In the beginning, Lord Gates created all Windows and saw that they were bad. Windows 3.0 was rubbish so he said something along the lines of "Let there be 3.1", but he saw that 3.1 was bad -- as were its subsequent evolutions Windows 95, 98, and (to some degree) XP. Something drastic had to be done.

So the Lord Gates created Vista in his own image -- and we've seen that it is good. So good, in fact, we've decided to share with you our knowledge of its excellence in a series of guides, which we'll kick off by talking about the new and updated software bundled with Vista.

Windows Mail
The venerable Outlook Express is no more. In its place is Windows Mail -- an email and newsgroup client that's far smarter than its predecessor. The interface looks familiar, but it runs independently of Internet Explorer and has the benefit of a built-in Instant Search box to help you find emails quicker. It also has Bayesian spam filtering, which can be trained to recognise spam on a per-user basis.

Windows Movie Maker
With the hi-def revolution upon us, we were happy to learn that the new WMM allows editing and outputting of hi-def video. Those of you without a Blu-ray or HD DVD burner drive needn't worry -- the software lets you burn your creation to an ordinary DVD. There are a clutch of new transition effects -- and best of all, it's more stable. Take note, Mac fanboys.

Windows Calendar
We're big fans of Google Calendar here, but it's hugely frustrating having to invite and register our non-Google Mail-using friends to share our schedules. Windows Calendar is a standard part of Vista that lets you plan and manage your activities and co-ordinate it with other Vista users over a network, or over email. If, for some strange reason, you want to co-ordinate your life with Mac users, you can do that too -- it supports the popular iCalendar standard.

Paint
Usually cast as the trampy cousin of Photoshop, Paint has been given a spruce-up. It now has better toolbars, unlimited 'undo' levels and, shock of all shocks, there's a crop function! Anyone who doesn't have the patience or inclination to open a resource-hungry image-editing application will be over the moon at this one.

Windows Meeting Space
NetMeeting's been given the elbow, but in its place is a new P2P collaboration app that lets you share individual applications or your entire desktop. Meeting Space has a very useful 'people near me' function that automatically tracks down other users on your network. Which is nice. />

Games
Solitaire is usually the first port of call after a fresh Windows install, so you'll be pleased to hear it's been upgraded and rewritten to take advantage of Vista's hot new looks. Pinball's been axed, but you get Minesweeper, Hearts, Spider Solitaire, Freecell and new additions Purble Place, Chess Titans and Mahjong Titans.

This is just a small subset of the new and updated applications you'll find in Vista. Tune in tomorrow, when we'll unearth more Vista loveliness. -RR